Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The first copies are HERE!

  The first thirty copies have arrived, hot off the presses! Coles Books in the Thousand Islands Mall, and Leeds County Books on King St. have had their deliveries of The Lost Channel today! Pick up yours just in time for Christmas!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Lost Channel is NOW AVAILABLE!

  Well, here it is, finished, and now available on Amazon! This sequel to 'Heart Of The Raven' once again plunges the children into another epic adventure. This time the kids set off to find a mysterious British man'o war, which disappeared into the labyrinth of the Thousand Islands in 1760. The ship was rumored to be carrying an amazing cargo, and the children race against time to locate the wreck, before sinister characters find it for their own profit...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sneak Preview! The Last Train...

As I finish up editing on The Lost Channel, I feel compelled to offer a sneak preview of the next title in the series, entitled The Last Train. The Lost Channel should be available on Amazon by week's end, so here is a little something from the next book after it! This is unedited, but I thought I would throw it on here just the same...

   The sunset was beautiful over the train yard, the sky a kaleidoscope of pinks and oranges, as the sun sank below the horizon. It was getting dark as the brakeman stepped up on the side of a grain car at the tail end, keying the microphone on his radio.
  "Shove for sixteen cars, 532." he commanded.
  "Shove for sixteen." repeated the engineer, and the diesel locomotive at the other end roared to life, pushing the rail cars down the track with a chorus of metallic 'clanks' and groans. The steel of the wheels screeched along the rails, as the work train pushed it's consist in the yard tracks.
  "Eight now, 532..." said the brakeman into his handset.
  "Eight." came the repeat.
  The brakeman held onto the side of the car, watching attentively as the cars were pushed down into the train yard, keeping an eye out for anything that could be in their way, or a switch not properly lined for their route. They continued to roll down the track, the cars swaying and clanking as they met each joint in the rails.
  "Four now, 532, four car lengths."
  As they slowed, the brakeman jumped off, his boots raising a small cloud of dust in the failing light.
  "Ok to stop, 532."
  The train gave a screech, the slack between the cars sounding a dull metallic smash as the train came to a halt. The brakeman now produced a flashlight, as it was vetting dark. It was warm and humid, even in the gathering darkness, and he wiped sweat from his brow with a gloved hand. He could hear the engine of the locomotive chugging at idle many cars behind him as he made his way to the last switch. It led down a spur track to one of the older factories in town, where his orders stated they had several boxcars to pick up. He removed the hook from the lock on the switch stand, throwing the handle with a quick grunt, lining the route for his train. Checking that the points of the switch had come completely over, he gave a satisfied grin, replacing the metal hook back into the locking clasp of the switch. It was only a few steps back to the last car on the train, and he stepped back up onto it's side, grabbing the handrail securely. Again he keyed the mic on his radio.
  "532, at least forty cars to the joint..."
  "Forty,...pushing." came the reply as the locomotive again roared to life. The cars clanked down the track, through a narrow treed route, along the outskirts of the city.
  "Thirty cars 532."
  The brakeman held onto the side of the tail end car, keeping a close watch on the track ahead with his flashlight. The full moon had begun to rise through the leafless trees, bathing the rails with it's light. The chill in the air made his breath a steamy cloud as he listened to the cars ride over the steel trail, their wheels 'clacking' over the joints in the rail.
  "Fifteen cars to a stop, 532." he said into the mic.
  "Fifteen." repeated the engineer.
    Through the gloom he could see the last switch, which would take the trim down to the mill where they had to deliver several empty grain cars. As he squinted through the darkness, the illumination from his flashlight caught something. It wasn't right. The switch was lined the wrong way. He grabbed the microphone clipped to his vest quickly.
    "Bring her to a stop 532, stop."
    The group of cars gave a great yank, as the locomotive applied the brakes, the slack between them stretching out with a slight crash. The steel wheel screeched against the rail as the consist came to a halt, just a car length from the switch.
    The brakeman jumped down, his boots crunching in the slag beside the track. Just great, he thought, who left this switch lined that way? Probably kids. He stalked up to the switch stand, removing the hook and throwing it the other way. If they hadn't gotten stopped, the train would have gone down to a dead end where it joined with the bicycle path. He looked down the rails with his light, looking through the darkness ahead, and then down toward the dead end. The track ended about a hundred yards down, a spot which the railway had donated to the city for parkland, transformed into a tree lined walking path which ended at the waterfront. With one last check on the switch, he replaced the hook into the switch stand, and walked back to mount the cars again.
  "Ok to shove, 532, fifteen cars to a stop." he said into the radio.
  "Fifteen, what happened?" asked the engineer as the locomotive once again throttled up.
  "Ah, kids turned the last switch on us, but we're OK now... 10 to a stop." he replied.
  "Ten. Should have the trainmaster lock that one up."
  "Definitely! It's hard enough to see down through here, let alone have to worry about that switch. They should just straight rail it. Five more, 532."
  "Five." came the repeat. "We wouldn't want to go down the other way, might meet up with the ghost of the tunnel!"
  The brakeman grinned. Every rail man knew of the story of the ghost of the railway tunnel which led under the city down to the waterfront. It was an old urban legend about a train brakeman who had died looking for his hand, which had been cut off by the wheels of the train he was working. The story was that he had found gold buried between the rails, and as he had reached forward to claim it, his hand was amputated by the train cars rolling forward. He had bled to death there beside the track, after wandering back toward the head-end of the train, seeking help. No one ever found any gold, and the story was that his ghost wandered the tracks, looking to find his hand, and his gold.
  The brakeman's thoughts were interrupted by the sight of the old stone mill coming into view out of the gloom.
  "Two cars, 532."
  As the train slowed to a crawl, the brakeman dismounted from the tail end car again, walking where he could see the stone of the loading dock of the mill, and keep an eye on his train cars as well. He shook off the chill as his breath steamed in the glow from his light.
  Something was out of place in his mind, and he glanced around suddenly. His light caught something in the trees beside him. It was a man.
  "Hey, you gave me quite a start! Can I help you with something?" he asked, his heart beating slightly faster.
  The man just stared at him, holding what looked like a lantern. His skin was white as snow, his eyes large and pale. The brakeman's breath froze in his throat, his blood pounding as he took in the grim visage. The man was dressed in striped overalls and a hat symbolic of the railway days of old. But it was the pale skin and the eyes that gripped him. There was no light from his lantern, and he continued to stare, not even really looking at the brakeman.
  All the brakeman could do was watch, as the man stood motionless, staring. Terror rose up in his mind, and he stumbled backwards, trying to put some space between him and whatever it was staring out of the trees. The brake
  An began to run, back toward his train, wanting nothing more than to be away from this 'man'. As he ran, the train, with no instructions to stop, crashed through the stop blocks of the mill track, landing the two tail end cars off the track into the slag with a crash.
  "What the heck was that, what's going on!" came the voice of the engineer over the radio.
  The brakeman fumbled for his radio, turning back with his flashlight toward the trees, toward the thing he had seen. The trees, leafless, bore the resemblance of death in the still fall night, illuminated by the flashlight. But there was nothing else. He was alone again, even though every nerve in his body was alive and on fire.
  "S-sorry," he stammered. "I got distracted... Looks like we got a mess."

Friday, November 15, 2013

The First Glass Works in Canada

By : Dennis Stein

  Shortly after the settlement of Upper Canada, the United Empire Loyalists established what is known as the first glass works in Canada near the village of Mallorytown. In 1839, Andrew Mallory, who came from a large family of enterprising settlers, started a glass works which only operated for about 10 years, producing pitchers, flasks and table wares from locally available minerals. Each of these productions was free blown glass, and the chemical make-up of the locally occurring ingredients gave the glass objects a distinctive aquamarine colour.
  When Britain took over the colonies, the King of England discouraged the Governor of Quebec from establishing local industries such as glass works that would compete with British products. It is assumed that the Mallory's desired to produce window glass, as this was difficult and expensive to procure in the young country. Although it was only in operation for about a decade, the glass works at Mallorytown produced beautiful hand blown pitchers, flasks, tumblers and other household wares, which are today extremely rare and valuable. Six surviving pieces are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, and several others can be found at Ottawa's Museum of Civilization.
  A plaque which was erected east of the village of Mallorytown by the Ontario Archaeological & Historic Board reads in part - "A short distance from this site stood the first glass-works known to have been established in Upper Canada., in operation from 1839 to 1849. It stands as another unique first in Canada, and part of our rich history...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 6060 limited Edition Print...

  For any railroaders or train lovers out there, my mother's signed and numbered prints of the 6060 locomotive in graphite on acid-free paper are available! They are $100 each, and make a beautiful addition to any space! Email me at fraghq@gmail.com if anyone would like to order one!

Please note that the prints are not shipped framed, but this picture is a fine representation of the finished, framed work...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My Way Turbine Powered Catamaran Video

This is the turbine powered Cat which shattered the Lake Of The Ozarks speed record!!

  I compiled all of my footage and photos from the season, and produced this little video, I also (borrowed) some footage from YouTube...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Bullet With Butterfly Wings

By : Dennis Stein

  Some people say everything happens for a reason. If that's true, then fans of a certain local powerboat will be happy to know that after a long winter, and the unfortunate events at last year's Thousand Islands Poker Run, the King is back...
  Bill Tomlinson's iconic 'My Way' turbine powered catamaran has been resurrected from the crash that crippled her last summer, looking like she never got a scratch. In a phone conversation with owner Bill Tomlinson, I discovered that the construction magnate's feelings for the boat were mixed. He explained that if it weren't for the local fans who simply love the huge powerboat, he might not have fixed her.
  But fixed she is, and sporting her brilliant red paint scheme, she looks ready for action once again. My way's carbon fiber hull has been redone, and re-enforced, her paint meticulously matched, and the massive 3000 HP turbines re-installed. Although she did not enter the Alex Bay 'Thunder on The Bay' Poker Run this year, Bill and Throttleman Ken Kehoe, along with mechanic Jamie Auld and the hard working team of mechanics at Kehoe marine, Dan  MacMullen and Lyle Stacy, have her almost ready to tear the surface off the river for another year.
  The boat never fails to draw the crowds, especially during this year's upcoming Ribfest and Poker Run activities in Brockville and the rest of the Thousand Islands. The boat is also scheduled to return to Lake Of The Ozarks in the states for this year's Shootout. Last year, My way ran a 208 mph run on radar, thrilling crowds there and tying the course record. But the boat's on board GPS told the crew that they ran 222-223 unofficially, which if you read up, is a new world record for a propeller driven powerboat in her class. Unofficial, it may be, but it means, unofficially, that the fastest boat on the planet resides right here in the Thousand Islands!
  Testing continues, and the crew who maintain My Way have made a few small changes to the set up this year, fixing little issues they wanted to address before. I have woke early the last two Saturdays in a row, just to see the massive catamaran get put into it's native environment, hoping to see the 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' tear a strip off the mirror like waters of the river. And, after a quick phone call to Throttleman Ken Kehoe, it looks like it will be an early morning again tomorrow...

  For more articles from Dennis Stein, visit thefineprints.blogspot.com...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Summer Of Hunger

By : Dennis Stein

  Many of us today have not gone hungry for any long period of time. Imagine what it would be like to wake up every day, and not have anything, or very little to eat. Combine that with quickly constructed homes, and a rugged wilderness that was only just beginning to be shaped into land suitable for farming, and you might imagine what the United Empire Loyalists had to contend with in the newly settled Royal Townships in the summer of 1788.
  It was only four years since the Loyalists had arrived to settle this part of Ontario, clearing land slowly, and sharing tools to build homes. There were less than twenty cows available the first year or so, and the governor from Quebec sought to secure provisions of livestock and seed for crops from across the border to the south. Tragedy struck in 1788, however, as the fledgling crop that were available failed. Already hard conditions quickly became worse. New settlers coming in to the townships were being given no provisions at all by the government, and were totally unable to provide for themselves. Families were sustained on mostly a porridge of oats, sometimes for long periods. Fish and game when caught were usually cooked and eaten in the woods, and eaten plain. Children would beg from passersby on boats, and people gave up their entire properties in exchange for a few bags of flour. It is recorded that five people starved to death.
  One of the more interesting accounts of the famine was the story of a Deacon in Augusta township, who left his wife and children to travel to the western part of the province where he had friends, to secure food and provisions. He left them with a supply that would last them two weeks, if it was rationed. His travels, and the complications thereof delayed him by a further nine days, and his wife, who had rationed their food carefully, saw that she and her children faced certain  starvation. She had nothing to do but retire to bed for the night, sure that the next day they would have nothing to eat. In the morning, to her great surprise, the cat had caught a rabbit, which she cleaned and cooked. Each of the next eight days, until the Deacon returned, the cat brought a rabbit for the wife and children to eat. Once her husband had returned with some food and provisions, the cat never caught another rabbit...
  Starvation is something that most people don't have to worry about here today, but one can imagine the desperate feeling of hunger from the early settlers of this province, and this country, in a rugged wilderness where the land had to be cultivated before being able to provide much. For more historical articles, visit thefineprints.blogspot.ca. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Capture Of Brockville

By : Dennis Stein

  On a cold February night in 1813, three groups of American soldiers crossed the frigid ice covering the St.Lawrence. The first group flanked the city's east side, the second group the west side, while the main column occupied Court House Square. At the time, Ontario's oldest incorporated city was called Elizabethtown, and at some time after 9 o'clock in the evening, some 200 men, including soldiers and citizen volunteers, decended on Brockville. The main portion of the force, led by the American commander at Ogdensburg, Captain Forsyth, went immediately to the jail, demanding the keys. These were surrendered, and the American invaders took back American prisoners, which as it was rumored, were not being treated well in their captivity. They also took several prominent citizens of Brockville as prisoners, along with 120 muskets, 20 rifles, 2 casks of ammunition, and various other provisions. All of this, including the prisoners were taken back to Ogdensburg, including Major Carley, three captains and two lieutenants. When the American force arrived back across the ice in Morristown, where they had staged the 'invasion' from, they paroled one of the prisoners, Dr. Hubbell. All of the prisoners were later set free.
  The Americans justified the incursion into Elizebethtown with the excuse that the Canadian soldiers had been crossing the river repeatedly in the area of Morristown, apprehending deserters. This would not please the British forces arriving near Prescott, and two weeks later, the Canadians retaliated. Lieutenant-Colonel McDonnell marched two columns of men out onto the ice of the river in front of Ogdensburg, in an effort to show the strength of the forces in Canada. One of the columns marched straight into the village, to almost no resistance. Two men were dispatched by McDonnell to the American headquarters, with a demand for surrender. Captain Forsyth refused of course, and a battle ensued. The Americans were driven back, after 5 killed and eighteen wounded, retreating to Black Lake. Fifty-two prisoners and considerable stores and weapons were seized by the British that day, and before leaving back to Canada, the forces burned the barracks, and attempted to destroy the bridge...
  It was a brief engagement exactly 200 years ago that would only lead to greater and greater conflicts in the War of 1812.